Progress Toward Long-Term Solutions For The Oak Creek Watershed

Oak Creek parkway

I am excited for the future of the Oak Creek watershed, and we’re making progress toward what I consider a key part of its long-term health and vibrancy: a watershed restoration plan.

The goal: Develop a plan that will guide future actions and investment across the watershed, giving us the information we need to make a real difference in bringing this environmental, ecological and recreational resource back to life.

As you may recall, leaders and other key stakeholders from each of the communities, governmental bodies and other organizations in the 28-square-fmile watershed met in January to discuss a potential plan. At the meeting, we gave feedback to the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission so they could provide a scope of work.

That scope of work is now back, and you can see it here.

It lays out a clear case for why a plan is necessary – including some of the problems that need addressing, and how we can get to workable solutions for the long term. The four focus areas will be around:

  • Water quality;
  • Recreational access and use;
  • Habitat conditions, and
  • Targeted stormwater drainage and flooding issues.

In addition, the scope document states, the status of the Mill Pond and the associated dam would be addressed considering their relationship to multiple focus issues.

The most important deliverable for me: “The watershed restoration plan will present implementation strategies, estimate the amount of technical and financial assistance needed for implementation and the associated costs, identify the authorities that will be relied upon to implement the plan, and identify potential sources of technical and financial assistance for plan implementation.”

In other words, this plan will deliver a comprehensive list of projects we should tackle across the watershed to ensure its long-term vitality. And it will provide us a path to address them.

It won’t be cheap. The restoration plan as proposed comes in at more than $500,000. But this is the cost of the holistic approach we’ve been lacking in this debate for decades. (The last similar study was done in the late 1980.)

Leaders representing some of the key potential plan funders — me, Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik and Parks Director John Dargle and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Executive Director Kevin Shafer — and Mike Hahn from SEWPRC met recently to discuss coordination, a path toward implementation and potential funding strategies.

It was a very positive discussion. We will meet again.

We will also be seeking grant funding for the plan, such as is being done with a related Oak Creek watershed water quality data testing effort being proposed by the Racine Health Department.

I ask for your continued support of this process and pledge to keep you posted as we move ahead. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.

The public will remain a key part of the process throughout, and will have plenty of opportunities to weigh in as we look to move ahead with the plan. That commitment to public involvement, outreach and education will also continue during the actual planning effort, as we’d bring on a third-party group focused on just those activities. You can learn more in the scope of work.

Ultimately, any funding strategy will require approval by the boards and councils of all the entities, and we’ll work toward that in coming months.

As I’ve written about, this is important work for South Milwaukee, and the entire watershed. I believe more than ever that this is the right path to take here.

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Mixed Caterpillar Earnings And Other Headlines

Some good news/bad news in Caterpillar’s earnings, a Cudahy gun club update, St. Francis lakefront apartments proposed and more.

Check out these South Shore headlines …

Also, NOW has published a new police blotter.

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Here Are More Details On The South Milwaukee Food Truck Carnival

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I’m not sure South Milwaukee has ever seen something like this. And I love it.

See you Sunday, May 3!

Print the flyer here.

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Bringing Downtown South Milwaukee History To Life

Train station old

How about one more cool downtown event this summer?

It’s the South Milwaukee Historical Society Downtown Walking Tour starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 20.

From local historian Nels Monson, who is leading it …

Lace up your walking shoes and join us on Saturday June 20 for a walking tour of Downtown South Milwaukee led by City Historian Nels Monson.

Tour starts at the Railroad Depot and is expected to last about two hours.

Cost is $5 per person. Children under 12 and seniors over 80 are FREE. All proceeds benefit the South Milwaukee Historical Society.

I’ve added this to the full list of downtown events. Mark your calendars!

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Celebrating Arbor Day

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Arbor Day is Thursday, and I’m happy to say the City of South Milwaukee is partnering with the South Milwaukee School District to celebrate.

How? By planting trees, of course.

The city will plant a tree at each of the four South Milwaukee public elementary schools over the next couple of weeks. A brief ceremony is planned at each school recognizing Arbor Day and the planting.

The schedule, all at 3 p.m. …

  • Thursday, April 23: E. W. Luther
  • Monday, April 27: Rawson
  • Wednesday, April 29: Lakeview
  • Friday, May 1: Blakewood

Here is a flyer. And here is a proclamation passed by the city council last night.

None of this would be possible without the leadership of hard work of Dan Ratajski, our assistant street department, who is receiving significant training from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in urban forestry, as we ramp up our city tree program. This event came out of those efforts.

And let’s also thank Walmart, which stepped up to donate $1,000 for the tree planting.

I am excited to get behind efforts like this, as we grow our urban forestry program. We took on this important added service last year, and we’re in it for the long term.

I also ask you to consider planting a tree in 2015 …

Happy Arbor Day!

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What’s Showing This Summer: Outdoor Movies (And Dinner)

Dinner and a Movie 2

Thanks again to Guardian Credit Union for stepping up to sponsor three outdoor movies downtown again this summer.

They’ve announced the movies they’ll be showing … and we’ve added a twist. We’re now calling the event being held on the three Fridays in June, July and August “Dinner and a Movie,” and we’re bringing local restaurants into the fold.

It’s easy: Take advantage of movie-night specials at a number of local eateries prior to the outdoor movies, and then swing by the farmers’ market site on 11th and Madison for the flicks.

This way, you can support a local business and enjoy a great downtown event, too. Sounds like a date night!

Check out the movie schedule in the image and in this flyer.

The early list of participating restaurants includes Azteca, China Chef, Barbiere’s and Nona’s Café. Look for a full list at http://www.guardiancu.org as the event approaches.

And a special thanks to Heidi Bontempo from Guardian and Joey Bukowski for their continued work on planning this fun event. This could not happen without them.

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South Milwaukee Man Killed In Motorcycle Crash And Other Headlines

Tragic news out of Milwaukee, where a South Milwaukee man was killed in a motorcycle crash.

The victim was identified as 46-year-old Joseph Hernke. Here is the story. Please keep his family in your prayers.

Here are some other South Shore headlines …

Also, NOW has published a new police blotter.

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